The relationship between the Hyatt Regency Maui and departing General Manager Michael Jokovich was a match made in heaven.
Although "Joko" - as he was affectionately known - and his lovely wife, Debbie, will move on to a similar position in the San Francisco Bay area, his five-year tenure at the Kaanapali property will be remembered by the Maui community and the Jokovich family as a time of growth and maturity that was immersed in the beautiful spirit of aloha.
Throughout the 25 years Jokovich spent working his way up the Hyatt corporate ladder to the Maui position in January of 2008, it was no secret that his foremost desire was to be the leader of the Kaanapali hotel.
Early in his career, he had worked his way up from rooms, to front desk and eventually to the GM position at Hyatts in New York, Chicago and in Waikiki, but all along the way, the warmth and allure of Maui kept calling him back.
Lo and behold, he moved into the Hyatt Maui GM office as the worst economic catastrophe since the Great Depression battered the country.
Joko became a mentor and supporter of the employees at the starlight resort at the gateway to West Maui's premiere tourist location. He rallied the 700-plus employees with his benevolent kindness and honest intelligence to lead the hotel through the crises with minimal downsizing and financial cuts. He balanced the bottom line with the needs of his employees and managerial staff, all the while maintaining the integrity of his kind character.
The pain that the families employed at the Hyatt endured during the Great Recession was thus minimal, and by 2010, the resort had straightened its back and returned to the healthy numbers of the previous decade.
A collective smile broadened the faces of the staff at the Hyatt Regency Maui.
Kekoa Mowat, currently the director of security there and a 15-year employee, is one of those staff members with a happy face.
"Mike Jokovich is a leader who came here and really cared about the people of Maui and the hotel. He always wanted to give back to the community while sincerely wanting to improve the hotel; not to make himself look good, but because he really cared about the people who worked here, and for the guests who came here to enjoy a vacation and Maui. He cared about everybody through all the changes we've gone through in recent years - he is really a good guy," said Mowat.
From the executive offices down to the entry level positions at the Hyatt, Joko was a benevolent leader who was approachable by all who worked under his guidance.
He instilled confidence and a feeling of well-being in the employees with his loyalty to them and a detailed eye to quality in the hotel. He is the kind of corporate leader who would be one of the first to visit a Hyatt employee who had just lost her brother in a tragic accident recently.
And so, we bid a fond aloha to Debbie and Mike Jokovich - who will join their two sons, Justin and Nicholas, along with their growing families - and wish them God's blessings for a healthy and happy future. We look forward to seeing you again.